NEW YORK, March 5 (Xinhua) -- Three U.S. top investment banks upgraded Ctrip.com International's stock on Tuesday, driving its price sharply up 19.78 percent around market close, which marked the largest daily gains among shares of U.S.-listed Chinese companies during the day.
JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley upgraded the Chinese travel services provider's stock to overweight, from neutral and equal-weight respectively, while Citigroup upgraded the stock from neutral to buy.
The rating upgrades came after the Chinese company reported on Monday robust earnings result for the fourth quarter and full year of 2018, which beat market expectations and was mainly generated by strong international business and greater presence in lower-tier cities.
Its net revenue increased 22 percent year-on-year to 1.1 billion U.S. dollars in the fourth quarter of 2018, and rose 16 percent year-on-year to 4.5 billion dollars in the full year, according to the travel platform's latest quarterly earnings report.
The upbeat fourth-quarter revenue was largely bolstered by Ctrip's prospering international businesses, in which both international hotel business and international air business, excluding British travel search site Skyscanner, tripled the industry growth.
Acquired by Ctrip in November 2016, Skyscanner saw its direct booking program sustain strong momentum, which delivered an over 200-percent revenue growth year-on-year in the fourth quarter.
Ctrip also built up its presence in lower-tier cities, and Ctrip branded low-star hotel room-nights registered 50 percent year-on-year growth in the fourth quarter.
"Looking into 2019 and the longer term, we are confident of continued growth," James Liang, executive chairman of Ctrip.com International, said in a statement briefing the quarterly earnings, as the company set its net revenue growth rate at a range of 18 percent to 23 percent year-on-year for the first quarter this year.
Founded in 1999, the Shanghai-based company has been listed on the Nasdaq under the symbol CTRP since December 2003. It is currently one of the world's largest online travel agents with a market cap of roughly 20 billion U.S. dollars, according to the company.